Warm Bodies: Bloodless Romance and Bloodless Carnage


Nerd stats for the two kinds of zombies featured in Jonathan Levine’s Warm Bodies: “Bonies” are leathery, desiccated skeletons with +10 dexterity, +10 strength, and a chaotic/evil outlook. “Corpses,” meanwhile, are shamblers with -20 intelligence, but with +20 charisma and a neutral/cute alignment. The story (adapted from the novel by Isaac Marion) is based on Romeo and Juliet in the same way as an essay by a high school freshman with basic cultural awareness of the plot but who didn’t do the reading. Julie (Teresa Palmer), the daughter of post-apocalyptic zombie fighter John Malkovich, is separated from her adorable Y/A team by a group of hungry zombies including “R” (Nicholas Hoult), the soulful corpse who kills her boyfriend. He develops a crush and drags her back to his airport lair to protect her from the other, less understanding undead. “R” narrates in wry voice-over, the lucidity of his interior life a contrast to his understandable difficulty with language. Still, it’s weird listening to zombies talk at all, particularly in sentences of more than two words. As the zombie culture at large becomes exposed to the romantic chemistry between “R” and Julie, the corpses begin showing signs of life, signified by single heart palpitations. The evil “bonies,” who hate love, set out in pursuit of the couple, mostly because once you endow your film’s zombies with relatability and courage, you need to find some new bad guys. The film’s intentions are way too good for its own good, producing bloodless romance and more shamefully bloodless carnage. Nobody kisses anyone else until it becomes clear that both parties have pulses, and everyone gets to keep all their limbs.